Remembrance of the Ghost of Christmas Past. Wait. That’s Not Right, Is It?

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Tyler Cowen has some reading advice for the digital age:

Everyone should have a long book on their Kindle that they otherwise would never read. Then, when you don’t feel like starting a whole new book on your Kindle, you dig into a small piece of your long book. And stop. As the years pass, you may eventually finish your long book (or not).

After three years, he’s about 18 percent finished with John Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion, which I assume has the virtue of being free in e-book form.

In any case, this sounds like good advice except for one thing: what if you have a bad memory? I have trouble remembering the first part of a book by the time I’m reading the last chapter, and that’s for books that I finish in a week. If I took years to read a book, it would be like reading random chapters completely divorced from the main narrative.

But maybe that’s a whole new way of reading? If I had to choose a long book, it would be something like Remembrance of Things Past (or whatever they call it these days, ever since they decided the old translation of the title was no good). Perhaps reading it in the normal sequence, but with each chapter completely divorced from its narrative context, would provide a whole new take on Proust? I could think of it as Forgetfulness of Things Past. But what if I cheated and reread the Cliff Notes summaries before each chapter to refresh my memory of what was going on? This is all trickier than it sounds.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate